Labor Family News - Summer 2001

AFT Contracts
Family Leave for Men in Japan
Child Care Workers and Labor
Bargaining Conference


American Federation of Teachers' Paraprofessional Negotiate Family Benefits

Sick Leave for Families
Paraprofessionals who work 20 or more hours per week may use 15 sick days a year to care for sick family members, including parent, spouse, child, brother, sister or other relationship determined by the Superintendent. If they work less than 20 hours per week, the number of sick days is based on years of service.
Adoption Leave: A leave without pay for up to 2 years for an adopting parent.
Graduation Leave: One day with pay to attend one's own graduation or that of an immediate family member from junior high school through college. (Lynn Teachers Union, Local 1037 and Lynn Massachusetts School Committee)

Job Sharing
An experimental job sharing program was agreed to by the Madison Area Technical College District and the paraprofessional union, Local 3872 of the Wisconsin Federation of Teachers. Applicants must have three years of seniority. Benefits are prorated. Upon termination of the job share, employees return to their previous jobs. (Wisconsin Federation of Teachers, Local 3872 and the Madison Area Technical College District)

Paid Family Illness Leave
Employees may take off 30 days a year (10 days a year for employees with 2 years or less employment) to care for a sick family member. For every day of absence, the employee receives half a day's pay. After 10 or 30 days leave, the employee may take a one year unpaid leave of absence (including the 10 or 30 days) to care for the family member. Their position is held for them during that time. This provision has an expanded definition of "immediate family". (Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Local 3 and the School District of Philadelphia)

FMLA Eligibility for Part Time Workers

Part time employees are eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act if they have been employed for at least 12 months and have worked a minimum of 625 hours during the previous 12 months. This reduces the FMLA eligibility requirement of a minimum of 1250 hours worked. (AFT College Staff Guild, Local 1521 and the Los Angeles Community College District)

Family Leave for Men in Japan

The Osaka Prefectural Government, the second largest local government in Japan after Tokyo, has a new family friendly policy to encourage male employees to take family leave for newborn babies. This decision under the first female governor in Japan, Harue Ohta, is the first time that a local government in Japan will institute a policy that challenges traditional gender roles.

The policy requires that managers of the local government create a family friendly work climate and encourage male employees to take family leave for newborn babies. They will have seminars for male employees and managers to understand work and family issues. They will also publicly release the data on gender ratios of who takes family leave every year to scrutinize the outcome of the policy. Prior to this decision, research was conducted and found that 70% of all male employees wanted to take family leave for their babies. However, only 6 male employees (out of a total of 12,800 local government male employees) have taken family leave since 1992 when the one-year family leave law for newborn babies took effect. (This law allows mothers and fathers to take one year of leave at 25% of salary paid by the unemployment insurance fund. In addition, there is 8 weeks of paid maternity leave at 60% of salary). The research also revealed that men did not take leave because of the lack of support and understanding at the work place for their family responsibilities.

The Prime Minister's office of Japan regards the family leave policy for men as a small but significant step and said "Osaka will be the model case for the other local governments." (This article was written by Kumiko Hagiwara of Japan, a visiting jour nalist at the University of California, Berkeley)

More News on Men and Family Leave
The French Prime Minister has announced plans to introduce two weeks of fully paid paternity leave for all new fathers. The leave would be financed by employers and take effect in January of next year, pending parliamentary approval.

Unions and Child Care Workers - Linking Organizing and Advocacy

Recent research continues to prove the strong link between quality child care and the presence of consistent caregivers. This has naturally led to the conclusion that increased compensation for child care workers is a primary driving force in the quality of care equation. The enormity of the problem has led advocacy groups to focus their attention on state legislation where they've been successful in securing public funding to start addressing this issue.

Child care workers rarely receive health benefits, paid time off or overtime pay but some have improved their conditions through unionization. Last year, pay averaged $7.42 an hour (Bureau of Labor Statistics). However, in an industry where small centers with few staff is the norm and parents are paying all they can, the challenge for unions has been to find alternatives to the traditional organizing and bargaining models.

In many states, unions have joined with advocacy groups and successfully embraced a two-pronged approach to improving the working conditions of child care workers by becoming key players in developing and pushing legislation as well by organizing. This advocacy has given child care workers a strong "voice" and a place at the political table. Here we highlight efforts in 3 states - Washington, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts.

SEIU Local 925 began organizing Seattle child care workers in 1998. Using an interest-based bargaining model, 12 centers (150 staff) were organized with one joint agreement containing language that each center could bargain an addendum, tailored to fit the needs of the center staff.

Early Childhood Education Career Development Ladder
In 1998, the Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI) worked with union leadership to create an Early Childhood Education Career Development Ladder. The Ladder contains wage enhancements based on experience, responsibility and continuing education. While the EOI developed the policy and the actual ladder, the union leadership helped create the wage increments and made sure teachers had input into creating the steps. To qualify, programs need to be licensed, provide 10 paid leave days per year, contribute at least $25 per month toward individual employee healthcare, set up a Quality Care Committee and 10% of the children served must be subsidized by the state.

This was the first time compensation for child care workers was actually on the table. Local 925, the EOI, and others gathered together and lobbied hard to secure funding. The union played a pivotal role in getting child care workers heard and seen around the state capitol, having them hand out chocolate covered pretzel ladders to legislators, staff and Governor Locke.

Four million dollars, over 2 years, was allocated to the Career Ladder and money began flowing to programs in June 2000. In considering the role SEIU 925 played in securing the money, Dorothy Gibson, Early Childhood Education Advocate at the EOI, commented, "The Career Ladder never would have been funded if the teachers hadn't organized."

The City of Madison and Dane County have a well-established group of child care advocates working closely and effectively together. AFSCME District Council 40 is one of those lead players and the force behind getting child care teachers involved in legislative advocacy. According to Peggy Haack, of the Center for the Child Care Workforce, "AFSCME has been extremely supportive and effective. The union sets the tone and makes sure that the teacher's voice is really heard, not just in organizing but in our policy work."

Federal Block Grants
Last year, Wisconsin was on the verge of losing $26 million in matching funds available through the Federal Block Grants program, directed at improving the quality standards of child care. The union played a key role in the lobbying efforts of the community, using its political connections to meet with members of the state senate, proposing the monies be made available to local communities that had their own matching funds available. Last July, the Joint Finance Committee agreed to the proposal and $13 million was made available to local communities last year, another $13 million in 2001. Madison partnered with Dane County and developed the Child Care Wage Initiative. With an annual cost of $250,000 (funded by block grant money), staff in 24 centers and 50 family child care providers benefit from an annual bonus of $750-$2,000, increasing with the training of the worker. The bonuses will continue as long as the initiative is funded.

In Massachusetts, the United Auto Workers began organizing child care workers in the mid-seventies. Today over 1,000 child care workers are UAW members. Since then the union, along with community advocates, has consistently pushed for the inclusion of a compensation element in any child care legislation. Nancy deProsse, Trustee of UAW Local 2322 says of the union activity in the state, "From the beginning we believed that along with organizing and negotiations we needed to be involved in political action."

The Early Education & Care Quality Aid Bill
Currently with the Education Committee, Senate Bill 271 contains a career ladder that rewards education levels with increased compensation and makes education and training more accessible and affordable for child care workers. Developed by Local 2322, the union worked with Senator David Magnani to make it a bill. With an estimated cost of $60 million over 3 years, passage looks likely.

Qualified child care providers continue to leave the field because of low pay and the lack of benefits. It is clear that parents cannot afford to pay more for child care but working conditions must be improved to turn the tide on the child care crisis. Focused on public funding and state initiatives, unions have become key players in getting child care workers to the political table and bringing about change.



The new 2001 Work and Family Bargaining fact sheets are now available! Find out what unions are doing to build momentum around bargaining for work and family issues.

Contains new contract language on a range of work and family issues from unions nationwide. Produced by the AFL-CIO Working Women's Department and the Labor Project for Working Families.
To order, call the Working Women's Dept, 1-888-971-9797 or
order on line at

Work and Family Conference on Collective Bargaining
September 12, 2001
AFL-CIO Headquarters
Washington, D.C.

For union negotiators, researchers and activists
The conference will cover: To register, call the Working Women's Department, AFL-CIO at 202-637-5064

Labor Family News is published quarterly by:

Labor Project for Working Families
2521 Channing Way #5555
Berkeley, CA 94720
Ph: 510-643-7088
Fax: 510-642-6432

Netsy Firestein

Jenya Cassidy
Managing Editor

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